News of Zealand: Waitangi Day Edition
A call to Trump, near-arrest of politicians, protests and celebrations.
(Top image via Flickr)
As the holiday weekend draws to close, here's what went on over Waitangi Day 2017
His salutations to other world leaders, including Australia's Malcolm "Trumble" Turnbull have been rocky at best. But when President Trump rang through to speak to newly minted Prime Minister Bill English on Waitangi Day, it was relatively drama-free. English took the phone call from the back of a car during Auckland Waitangi celebrations. English told Fairfax the President was "warm and thoughtful" during the 15-minute chat, which Trump jammed in just before the Super Bowl. He said Trump appeared "very focused" on the fight against Islamic State, but there were no specific conversations about New Zealand's contribution. "The discussion focused on what steps we take and the US takes as ways of protecting our citizens from high risk people coming in, which is clearly at the top of his agenda."
It's not Waitangi without a Winston moment, and this year the New Zealand First MP was threatened with arrest after an argument with Te Tii Marae officials. While Peters was answering media questions he was asked by marae officials to move off the grass at the entrance to Te Tii and back onto the road.
One official said to Peters, "can you please move off the Marae grounds before we get the police to remove you".
Peters replied, "You go and get the police and try it, go on."
Meanwhile, the Prime Minister chose to skip the traditional ceremonies at Waitangi—opting instead to spend the time at Auckland celebrations.
His decision came after trustees of the marae told English in a letter that he couldn't speak during the powhiri unless a Maori representative spoke on his behalf.
The day featured protests, including over Māori sovereignty, breaches of the Treaty of Waitangi, and other social issues. One hikoi from the far North arrived at Waitangi protesting government's failure to act against methamphetamine. Leader Reti Boynton told RNZ that P addiction increased aggression and crime in the region. It was not just a gang problem. "We have support from Black Power and Mongrel Mob leaders," he said. "We're sick of it. Our kids are suffering.
Possibly hoping to steal back some thunder after their own disastrous Trump call, Australians are priming themselves for an attempt to break the world record for largest group haka. Three months ago 6035 Wairarapa school children took part in a mass haka to take the record, and are waiting to have the record approved. But a competing attempt has already been planned cross the ditch. Organisers said more than 5000 Maori lived in Sydney and the record attempt was a drawcard for their Waitangi Day celebrations.
In darker news, the weekend ended with calls for an attitude change around water safety, after five people drowned. One woman was swept downstream from where she was swimming, after a floodgate opened on the Waikato river. The four other weekend deaths included a diver who collapsed following a dive, a 70-year-old woman washed away by a rogue wave, a 21-month old boy who drowned at a pool, and a man who died in hospital after being pulled from Wellington Harbour.
Follow Tess on Twitter.